Planning’ summit, at least 37 governments, 16 private companies and 11 partner organizations, including civil society and private foundations, a total of 64 new policies were committed to accelerate progress on rights-based family planning programs and access to modern
The financial commitments at the summit totaled at least $2.5 billion by 2020. The majority of the funding, $1.5 billion, has been committed by countries in Asia and Africa, according to the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) organization website.
Furthermore, many countries announced that they will renew their commitments to accelerate family planning progress, including service delivery, youth engagement, advocacy and contraceptive security to empower women and girls as rights holders to hold governments and providers accountable as duty bearers. In addition, four new countries announced that they will partner with FP2020.
The U.K. government announced it was increasing its funding for family planning by £45 million ($58 million) a year until 2022. The British International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, said at the summit that family planning was “not a nice to do or add on. It is crucially essential. You cannot beat poverty unless you get on top of this issue.”
The Netherlands government also announced an extra £5 million for contraception and safe abortion access for women and girls in conflict areas. Dutch Minister of Trade Lilianne Ploumen said, “Sexual and reproductive rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.” Ploumen also said that the Netherlands would give another €11.5 million ($13.1 million) to the U.N.’s Central Emergency Response Fund.
In April, Donald Trump decided to defund the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which already faces a funding gap of $700 million until 2020. In May, the U.S., the largest donor for family planning, with more than $600 million in funding for 2017 alone, decided not to allocate any funding for international family planning in the proposed budget. The U.S. Congress is still to vote on this decision.
Trumps’ decisions come as part of his ’Global Gag Rule’ or ’Mexico City Policy’ introduced in May. The rule prevents U.S. aid money from supporting overseas organizations that work in fields related to abortion. Every Republican president since 1985 has implemented it. However, Trump has adopted a stringent version of the rule, under which NGOs that refuse to sign will be refused all health assistance, including for HIV, primary care, nutrition, tuberculosis and malaria programs. This would affect world health budgets with as much as $8 billion.
Melinda Gates, who’s ‘Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’ is committing to increasing its funding for family planning by 60 percent, with an extra $375 million over the coming four years, said that she is deeply troubled by Trump’s decision to cut funding for family planning, as it threatens to reverse progress made on expanding services to women in some of the poorest parts of the world. She said at the opening plenary of the ‘Global Family Planning’ summit in London, “This is a difficult political climate for family planning. I’m deeply troubled, as I’m sure you are, by the Trump administration’s proposed budget slash.”
In January, Dutch Minister of Trade Lilianne Ploumen launched the ‘She Decides’ initiative to raise money to plug the gap that Trump’s policy will leave.
First-time countries making a commitment include Chad, Haiti, South Sudan and Canada, with donations of $650 million.
Chad’s Minister of Public Health, Ngarmbatina Odimbeye Soukate, said, “Our president is fully committed that no women should die giving birth. Despite economic [problems], which are difficult, we cannot go backwards.”
South Sudan Health Minister Machur Matur Kariom said, “We cannot do this alone. We have the political will in the country and count on your support and the support of the donors.”
First-time commitment-makers from civil society organizations include International Rescue Committee, Doctors of the World, Nutrition International, Americares, Blue Ventures and Comic Relief.
Private sector first-time commitment-makers include Vodafone Foundation, which will dedicate $1 million to services for teenagers in Tanzania; Reckitt Benckiser Group, the maker of Durex; CARD-MRI, the largest micro-finance institute in the Philippines; Chaudhary Foundation from Nepal; global company Cycle Technologies; Swedish fashion chain Lindex, which will spend €430,000 over the next three years to offer family planning services to 83,500 workers in its Bangladesh supply chain; MTV’s “Staying Alive Foundation” (SAF); global generic company Mylan; NST, a Philippines-based apparel supplier for global brands; Chinese company Shanghai Dahua; Indian automobile component manufacturer Spark Minda; Indian company Tata Trusts; and English tea manufacturer Twinings, which will expand its healthcare programs in Kenya from 6,000 to 40,000 employees.
Modern family planning methods are not merely a health intervention, but a societal intervention that lies at the heart of human rights issues and contributes to the goals of the U.N. Secretary-General’s “Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.”